After a very moving funeral yesterday with so many moving testimonials for Bob Meals, our focus is now on Kathy. Because of the Holidays, shiva is traditionally either delayed or cancelled, but Kathy is sitting shiva from Sunday night and is open to visits and food.
We are having just one official minyan during shiva on Tuesday evening October 13th at 7.30pm at Kathy’s home: 440 Capital Avenue, Berthoud CO. 80513. If anyone wants to car pool, we will be leaving the Bonai parking lot at 6.30pm sharp.
If you want to visit during other times or help provide meals for Kathy, please contact Cairole Woodward (303 519 8048) or Karyn Schad (303 665-8616) who have agreed to be point people for Kathy.
Hamakom y’nachem – prayers of strength and comfort to Kathy and the rest of the family.
Thank you for your support,
Bob Meals – Hayyim Raphael ben Avraham v’Sarah z”l
February 26th 1951 – October 5th 2009
Mizmor shiru l’Adonai shir chadash, ki niflaot assah – sing a Psalm for God, a new song, for God has performed miracles. A couple of weeks ago, one of the times that I visited Bob in the ICU after his surgery when he was still lucid, I sat with him and offered to chant some tehillim, psalms. I asked him if he had a favorite psalm and, without missing a beat, he smiled that sweet smile of his and said “Psalm 98.” That’s how it begins, Mizmor shiru l’Adonai shir chadash, ki niflaot assah – sing a Psalm for God, a new song, for God has performed miracles. Many of the psalms open with the phrase Mizmor l’David, a psalm of or for David. In my mind Psalm 98 from now on will always be Mizmor l’Bob – A Psalm for Bob. You may be wondering how we can sing a new song and speak of miracles, when we are sad at this loss, but Bob chose this psalm, I believe, as an invitation to us to sing the song of the miracle and wonder of Bob’s life rather than the tragedy of his death, as the Jewish community across the world celebrates this Sukkot – the season of joy. The Psalm also declares “b’chatzotzrot v’kol shofar hariyu lifnei hamelech Adonai – with trumpets and the sound of the shofar call out to Adonai, the King. I blew the shofar for Bob in the ICU and Bob blew it at his niece Mindy’s graduation. Now, the shofar, that mighty ram’s horn, in Bob’s psalm says, “let’s make some noise in the world and extol the virtues of Bob Meals!!!”
Robert Wade Meals was born in Broomfield, Colorado on February 26th 1951 to Robert T and Virginia Lee Meals and was always an adventurous, tenacious and extremely talented kid for all that he set about to do, whether on the baseball field or being the top guy in High School for lighting and sound on theater productions; camping, hunting, fishing or radio club. Bob was a National Honor Society student in High School and an Eagle Scout. After the sudden and very premature loss of his father, Bob, says Tom, really became the father figure in the family and Tom always looked up to his older brother and they did almost everything together. These brothers had such a chemistry when they were working on theater productions that they could throw saws and hammers at each other, catching them without missing a beat. On the family camping trips, Bob would get everything precisely prepared and in order, including the cot for mom, load up the car and say, “come on everybody, let’s go!” That’s the kind of guy he was. Bob has always been a friend and mentor to his brother Tom as well as Tom’s wife Sue and their kids Eric, Mindy and Byron and it was so important that Uncle Bob was at Eric and Mindy’s college graduation and very sad for Byron that he will not be at his, although I am sure his shining spirit will be there with you that day.
While studying engineering at CSU, Bob was diagnosed with type one diabetes, making it hard for him to focus on his studies and marking the beginning of serious health issues that he battled much of his too short life. Bob took his considerable gifts and skills into law enforcement and served in Boulder County Sherriff’s Department for 34 years. Retired detective sergeant Bob Meals earned the title “father confessor’ among his colleagues for an incredible quality that came from deep compassion and respect, even for hardened criminals, that would just make people open up and talk. Bob’s step-daughter Brandy told me that you just couldn’t help it with Bob. You would want to tell him everything. Bob was a great listener as well as a great detective and solved many crimes and his careful, precise nature meant that he also taught many officers how to write a good report. Twenty two years ago Bob knew that Kevin Elmer murdered his wife, but at the time he wasn’t charged because of what was considered a lack of evidence. Three years ago, on Bob’s evidence, the case was reopened and on Monday, the same day that Bob died, Kevin Elmer was given a life sentence. Bob was very loved and respected by his colleagues as we can see by the great outpouring of support here today.
In 1997 Bob had a double transplant of his pancreas and a kidney and since then he went out of his way to talk to people, colleagues or family members of colleagues who had similar health issues to be a caring, listening friend. It was this quality, along with many others, that made Kathy fall in love with Bob when they met in the Sheriff’s Department and started dating about eleven years ago. Kathy’s daughter Brandy knew right away that they were meant to be together and saw Bob as her dad from the beginning, as well as a role model of what she was hoping to find in a husband. She did and she and her husband DJ had tremendous love, respect and care for Bob right up until the end. It was Bob who walked Brandy down the aisle and Bob and DJ even had a slow dance at the wedding. All of Kathy’s family saw how tenderly Bob loved Kathy and this made them love him all the more. Every Friday night Bob would hold Kathy’s hand and lovingly read to her the Aishet Chayil, the passage from Proverbs that speaks of a woman of valor.
Kathy’s deep love of Bob is about the kindness and compassion of his soul, and a feeling that being with Bob would make her a better person. She jokes that it didn’t work, but we all know that the incredible love and caring that Kathy has had, especially in these last years, has kept Bob alive and sustained him in so many ways. Kathy’s sister Sharon has no doubt that Bob made Kathy a better person.
The spiritual journey that Bob and Kathy shared together with their very deep studies made a strong relationship even stronger. Their religious adventure began with a course in The Hebrew Roots of Christianity and the more they studied, the more they realized that they wanted to embrace Judaism. They grew to love their teachers, Morah Yehudis, Rabbi Gavriel Golfeder, Ruth Seagull and eventually I had the significant honor of working with them to complete their conversion as Jews in December 2006. I then had the privilege to officiate at their Jewish wedding just over seven years after their first wedding. It has been a delight to be, along with Bob and Kathy’s other teachers, a part of their very committed and authentic Jewish journey. In this Sukkot, the Festival of Booths, where it is traditional to dwell in a temporary structure outside, Kathy remembers with affection and humor their first attempt to celebrate this holiday with Bob insisting that they slept outside, so he pitched a tent in the backyard and persuaded Kathy to sleep there in the chilly fall air. Even though they had not quite fulfilled the obligation as it is generally understood, this story illustrates Bob’s enthusiastic embrace of tradition, perhaps made easier by his love of camping! The truest lesson about this holiday as many of spend conscious time in a fragile, impermanent structure, is that life in this world is temporary and fragile, as Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, reminds us. Our job is to do the best we can while we are here. Bob’s body was like a Sukkah – fragile and a temporary home for his soul, but he sure used his time well.
Bob’s character was a model of honor, truth, kindness and generosity. The rabbis ask aizeh hu m’chubad? Who is honored? The answer: Ham’chabed et habriyot. The one who honors all humanity. (Pirke Avot 4:1). We can see how much honor there is for Bob in this room. Look around. This cavod, this honor exists because of how much he honored others.
I believe that a soul, however unconscious in the physical realm, understands the languages of love and forgiveness and chooses the moment that it leaves its body. In recent years, Bob had reestablished connection with his son Rob, which was so important to him. He was able to dance at his sons’ wedding and, just a few months ago, Bob got to hold his grandson, Robert Maverick in his arms, which was a source of great joy for all. Towards the end, Bob was surrounded by loving family, but it was not until he had the opportunity to connect for a moment once again with his teacher Rabbi Goldfeder and his wife Ketriella and to hear the voice on the phone of his twin sister Betty, estranged for many years, that he was actually able to let go of life in his body. Perhaps his soul also knew that justice had been done that day and his evidence here was no longer needed. As sad and premature as this loss is, there was something perfect, dignified and peaceful about his end. A full circle.
Mizmor l’Bob – Bob’s psalm, concludes “lifnei Adonai ki va lishpot ha’aretz, yishpot tayvel b’tzedek, v’amim b’me’shar’arim. Before Adonai, for God will come to judge the earth. God will judge the world with righteousness and all peoples with fairness.” I have no doubt that Bob’s gentle soul is taking its rightful place among the Tzadikkim, the righteous ones on high.
Bob’s psalm – the song of the life of Bob Meals, inspires each one of us to be the best and do the best we can, bringing a true sense of justice, compassion, humility and love into the world. That is how we honor the name and the memory of one who honored each of us. Alav hashalom – peace on his soul and great strength and comfort to Kathy and all who mourn his loss. We love you Bob.